Delap to shrug off shoulder pain

Rory Delap intends to ignore the nagging pain in his shoulder for the remaining games of the season and help Stoke’s push up the Premier League table.

The discomfort is a legacy of being the team’s long-throw specialist and something he has cope with since December.

Stoke have all but secured their top-flight status for a second successive season thanks to beating Blackburn last weekend but Delap is anxious to keep his foot on the pedal when they face Fulham at Craven Cottage.

He said: “I have got a bit of a sore shoulder but hopefully I can get that sorted out in the summer.

“We cannot afford to relax. If you do that you could end up without a point between now and the end of the season.

“Even if we do stay up we don’t want to go into the next campaign on a poor run of form.”

Delap has been Stoke’s lethal weapon in their first season in the Premier League and weighed in with a number of assists thanks to the different ways he launches the ball from the touchline.

However, the 32-year-old, who has worn the colours of Carlisle, Derby, Southampton and Sunderland, is bewildered by all the fuss surrounding his throw-ins.

He said: “I have used it wherever I have been but probably I am having more success here. That is to do with the manager and the players we have.

“It has been strange to get so much attention and managers going on about what I do. Maybe teams think we are a one-trick pony.

“If that tactic deflects from the other things we are are doing, it is great. I am sure we will keep using the throws as a small part of our game.”

Manager Tony Pulis fears left back Danny Higginbotham may miss the remainder of the season because of a back injury.

Striker James Beattie is also sidelined with a thigh injury while right back Andy Wilkinson remains doubtful for the trip to Fulham because of a back problem.

Pulis said: “Danny has hurt one of the discs in his back and could need an operation. We might have seen the last of him this season.

“As for Beattie, he will not be fit for Fulham while there is a question mark over Wilkinson.”

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